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State Department error affects thousands of highly-skilled H-1B immigrants

As the United States' immigration policy continues to be a hot-button political and social issue, the focus is often on those who come to the U.S., both legally and illegally, from poor and often violence-ravaged countries. There are, however, many other highly-educated and skilled immigrants who come to the U.S. to fill positions in specialized fields like technology, science and medicine. 

These individuals are sponsored by a U.S. employer and are able to work and live in the U.S. via an H-1B visa. A significant percentage of H-1B visa holders have dreams of becoming green card holders, which would allow them to break ties with an employer and change jobs. However, because U.S. immigration policy states that "no country can have more than 7 percent," of employment-based green cards, it can take years for H-1B visa holders from certain countries to obtain the coveted documents.

These individuals are sponsored by a U.S.employer and are able to work and live in the U.S. via an H-1B visa. A significant percentage of H-1B visa holders have dreams of becoming green card holders, which would allow them to break ties with an employer and change jobs. However, because U.S. immigration policy states that "no country can have more than 7 percent," of employment-based green cards, it can take years for H-1B visa holders from certain countries to obtain the coveted status. 

Early last month, "tens of thousands of highly skilled legal immigrants," were informed by the U.S. State Department that, come Oct. 1, their long wait for a green card was finally over. However, on Sept. 25, the vast majority of these same immigrants received notice that the decision to grant them green cards had been reversed. Caused by a reported miscalculation by the State Department regarding green cards quotas, the news left thousands of H-1B visa holders confused, devastated and angry.

Annually, immigration officials are only allowed to issue 140,000 employment green cards. Somehow, an error was made and tens of thousands of H-1B visa holders were notified that they were among those who would finally receive a green card. Several immigrants who were affected by the egregious error have filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. government, charging that the administration's actions were "arbitrary and capricious" and that they have suffered monetarily as a result.

Individuals who are in the U.S. on H-1B visas may have many questions and concerns about the U.S. immigration process. From assisting with the green card process to defending against possible deportation, an attorney who handles immigration matters can provide advice, assistance and strong legal advocacy.

Source: The New York Times, "Miscalculation on Visas Disrupts Lives of Highly Skilled Immigrants," Julia Preston, Oct. 1, 2015

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